Imagine coming home from a business trip and chatting with your roommate and best friend about his latest hook-up. Imagine hearing about how he might or might not actually care about her, and then imagine that this hook-up comes barreling down the stairs wearing nothing but a sheet as she requests Round 2 (or 3, or 10). And now, imagine that woman is your mother. Weird, right?
But weird doesn’t necessarily mean interesting, as the premiere of the CW’s Significant Mother proves. The half-hour comedy first introduces us to Lydia (Days of Our Lives‘ Krista Allen) and Jimmy (The Vampire Diaries‘ Nathaniel Buzolic), who like to have sex; then to Nate (90210′s Josh Zuckerman), who finds out his mom and his best friend are having sex. The rest of the episode focuses on Nate freaking out about his newfound knowledge, and his mom and Jimmy trying to do some damage control.
The show is shot similarly to a single-camera, Modern Family-style sitcom—but the actors perform as if they’re on a multi-camera sitcom and the pacing is more suited for a web series, which altogether combines for a format that takes some time getting used to. Although all these styles don’t necessarily mesh together perfectly, the effort to try out something different is admirable and could work to the show’s benefit if it figures out how to better combine the three.
Figuring that out will require toning down the performances, though. The line deliveries are often over-exaggerated to a highly annoying point, specifically in Lydia’s case. Actress Krista Allen has the aw-shucks attitude of Jennifer Garner, but she takes that attitude and needlessly amps it up—then doesn’t venture outside that persona at all.
The writing isn’t doing her any favors though: One of Lydia’s most irritating tendencies is blurting out things she probably shouldn’t—for example, accidentally telling her kinda-husband that she’s sleeping with their son’s best friend—and then following it up with a confused, “Hmm?” when the person she’s talking to acts surprised in response to whatever she just said. It comes off as a forced, lazy way to further the plot—let’s just get the loose-lipped mom to spill the beans on, well, everything!—rather than a way to inspire genuine laughter.
Perhaps the premise itself is the show’s real downfall. A mom sleeping with her son’s (adult, of-age) best friend might be enough of a situation to focus one episode of TV on, but an entire series? There’s not enough there, especially not enough that hasn’t been done before.
Not every show premise has to be insanely original or inherently fascinating to succeed. But if you’re going to make a comedy about something that has neither of those qualities, the performances and writing need to make up for it. And in Significant Mother, they’re not quite there yet.
Significant Mother airs Monday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET on The CW.